The toy industry is BIG business. Some years back, iPod toys were the rage. These cute, novelty “toys” went hand in hand with your iPod, ranging in price from $14.95 to $29.95 each. Today of course, something else is considered this year’s must have item.
If you think that something is pretty cool today, just wait — it won’t be long before they become yesterday’s news, especially when the next gadget comes along. But you can certainly imagine that there was a time when these iPod toys were in a lot of people’s wishlists:
Speaking of “toy fads” though, have you or your child ever fallen for one of the favorites? Some toys only last a few days around the house before they disappear, while others have the staying power to last generations. Let’s talk about some of the top toy fads and what it means for your pocket. A lot of these toys are so simple, yet have remained on retail shelves for a long time. Can you come up with a business idea that’s as memorable as these products?
1. Hula Hoop. Back in the 1950s, Wham-O successfully marketed the Hula Hoop with sales of 100 million units in just two years. The Hula Hoop was one of the original inductees into the National Toy Hall of Fame and it’s still around today. A set of three classic Hula Hoops costs under $15 at retailers like Amazon.
2. Yo-yo. Versions of the yo-yo date back thousands of years, but the Duncan Yo-Yo was a marketing phenomenon of the 20th century. The fad began in 1928 and had resurgences thanks to TV advertising. A number of yo-yos are available for under $10, making them inexpensive gifts.
3. Rubik’s Cube. This puzzle was created by Erno Rubik of Hungary and it’s cited as one of the top-selling toys of our times. It was most popular in 1980, when it sold 4.5 million units. Personally, I’ve never been able to solve the thing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to share.
4. Cabbage Patch Kids. An art student came up with these dolls, which became one of the top toy fads of the 1980s. Thanks to adoption certificates and enormous demand, the dolls generated over $1 billion in sales in 1984. The brand is still active today.
5. Trivial Pursuit. Back in 1984, this board game sold more than 20 million units. Since then, various other editions have hit the shelves. It was originally developed by a Canadian duo and is now owned by toy giant Hasbro. For parents, board games can be a good deal because of their replay value.
6. Beanie Babies are a brand of stuffed animals made by Ty, Inc. They rose to prominence in 1995 and began to wane in popularity about four years later. I knew people who thought they were more exciting than CDs and savings accounts, but the value of their Beanie Babies collections never let any of them retire.
7. Tickle Me Elmo was the Sesame Street toy from Tyco that everyone wanted for the holiday season of 1996. When it began selling out in stores, shoppers allegedly went on red-furred rampages trying to acquire the giggling little guy. At retail, it was supposed to be just $28.99, but desperate shoppers drove up its price on the Internet. Tyco sold 1 million Elmos that year. Just remember that no toy fad is worth jail time because you punched out another shopper.
8. Video Games. The video game industry has the potential to bring in $74 billion this year. From the Atari console and the Game Boy handheld unit to today’s Xbox 360, Wii, and PlayStation 3, video games have captivated successive generations. Downloadable content, engaging peripherals like the Kinect and emerging new properties can assure parents that there’s always something more for them to buy .
9. Pokemon. Sometimes I suspect Nintendo will stay in business forever because I will keep on buying Pokemon games. The Pokemon franchise was started by Satoshi Tajiri in 1996. Extending beyond a video game, the series or brand has grown to include anime movies and TV shows, manga, toys and a trading card game. The video games have sold 200 million units worldwide. In 1999, sales were as high as $1 billion.
10. Zhu Zhu Pets. These robotic hamsters were in demand for Christmas 2009 and sold around 10 million units that year. Since then, they’ve expanded into video games and other products. Although they were priced at a reasonable $9, they soon became hard to find in retail stores. Some parents reportedly paid upwards of $100 at auction sites for the adorable hamsters. I think the parental lesson here is to hit the store running as soon as you hear a toy is a top fad for the holiday season.
11. The Magic 8 Ball. This toy was one of my ultimate favorites when I was a kid many moons ago. It’s still going strong today! Its inventor was inspired by his mother’s use of a “spirit writing” device, which I suppose she used in her job as a fortuneteller. Many toys — many of which are electronic in nature — have been spawned that have the same premise, but in my opinion, they don’t quite have the magnetism of the original toy.
How many of these toys have cycled through your house? I have missed out on the Zhu Zhu Pets so far, but the lucky kiddos on my list might get one of the National Toy Hall of Fame inductees of 2008: the Stick. After the last thunderstorm, I have plenty to go around.
Now think about it from a different point of view: inventing such a toy is like winning the lottery. The toy, entertainment, movie and gaming industries are pretty similar in this regard: your product is hit or miss. If you’ve got a successful hit in your hands, you can make a ton of money. Otherwise, well, you’re back to the drawing board.
Created November 24, 2006. Updated December 5, 2011. Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.